Bacon Brothers Roll Where Music Takes Them
By KARA YORIO STAFF WRITER | The Record
Emmy winners and A-list actors aren't typically found playing guitar in the back of a funky bar or trying to gain the attention of a state fair crowd during a free show. But Kevin and Michael Bacon are spending their summer doing just that.
The star of Fox's "The Following" and his older brother, an award-winning television and film composer, are on tour with their band, the Bacon Brothers, hitting casinos, bars, state fairs and intimate theaters like the Mayo Center in Morristown, where they'll stop on Sunday. Their range of musical styles learned in their Philly youth -- rock, country, folk, soul -- allows the six-piece band to adapt to most crowds and situations.
"We sort of roll with it depending on where we're playing," said Kevin, who takes this second career very seriously. "It's kind of a trade-off. The energy of a bar is often great and I really get off on that. My brother, he tends to be a little more comfortable in a theater setting. He really likes it sonically to be perfect."
Kevin is right, Michael does prefer the true stage.
"We're playing the Syracuse State Fair, which is always a lot of fun because everybody's in such a good mood and it's summer and it's jolly," the elder Bacon said. "But, for myself, I really enjoy playing venues more like the Mayo, because it's a little more like a concert and there are certain things we can do in venues like that that we can't do at a state fair or a funky bar."
They can, for example, start the second half of a split set with Michael alone on cello.
"That kind of requires full attention of the audience or it doesn't even come close to working," he said.
The rock-and-roll part of the set, however, can suffer at times in these places, according to Kevin.
"Sometimes if you're playing something that is kind of rocking and the theater doesn't want anybody to stand up, it can get a little strange," he said.
(Message to Mayo crowd: Get up and dance -- something most have probably heard Kevin Bacon lobby for before.)
Despite the apparent differences in personalities, the Bacon Brothers will never be confused with the Kinks, Oasis or Beach Boys, who are known as much for their legendary band brother battles as their music. These brothers get along.
"Yeah, it's boring, but we do," said Michael, who has been playing in this band with his brother for nearly 20 years.
He credits not only a nine-year age difference but busy primary careers that take the pressure off the band and allow only a small window of time for their music.
"I don't think we have time for the fighting," Michael said. "We have to be hitting on our cylinders. If there are any issues in the band they generally are outside of Kevin and my relationship so that we're kind of usually circling the wagons ourselves and not so much opposing each other."
The Bacons' lives are "not really tabloid fodder, not really all that exciting," Kevin said. As a joke, when someone asks him how his weekend was, he'll answer, "Oh the usual, hookers and blow."
That response is now the title of the first song on their seventh album, "36 Cents," which they hope to release this summer.
"I thought, 'That's kind of a funny title,' so I was trying to write a funny song based on that title," said Kevin. "It ended up being a really serious song. It's not about me at all, but it is sometimes possible to put yourself in the shoes of another person. That's what I do as an actor. I walk in somebody else's shoes."
Michael calls their songs "confessional," but Kevin doesn't worry that the press will read the lyrics and seek out wife Kyra Sedgwick's comment for her husband's issue with drugs and prostitutes.
"Look, if somebody picked up on it -- I feel like at our level, no bad press," he said with a laugh. "It's kind of like, that wouldn't be the worst thing."
He approaches his songwriting as he does his acting, he said, fearlessly with no care about his personal image taking a hit because of the character or lyrics.
"Who I am as a person, a man, a father, citizen of the world, that's a different thing, I don't feel like they overlap," he said.